Sound Advice: Holiday gift ideas and audio system upgrades

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

Updated for the holidays: A few noteworthy products I reviewed and recommended earlier this year have been updated or had new models added to the product line. I will highlight them here for holiday shoppers, starting with audio products and moving on to food/cooking products.

Mojawa MOJO2 bone conduction headphones: These headphones are a new version of the top-rated Mojawa bone conduction headphones I reviewed a few months ago. They allow you to listen to music and other audio programming without covering your ears for greater awareness of the world around you. The MOJO2 has a new design for significantly better comfort and upgraded sound quality, and they are keeping heaving discounted Black Friday pricing ($109.99, from $149.99) through the end of the holiday season. Mojawa products are sold on Amazon.

ZVOX AV110 Micro Home Theater System: This system takes a tiny ZVOX TV speaker and combines it with a miniature subwoofer that can be placed behind the television to produce full-range sound with surprising bass and sonic impact. It is on sale for the holidays for $119.99, reduced from $249.99. zvox.com

Cromify E9000 vacuum sealer: This sealer now has eight different modes for dry and wet foods and is a great choice for anyone who wants to store food at optimum freshness, avoid freezer burn or try sous vide cooking. The Cromify E9000 sells for under $50 on Amazon.

Pelican 8QT Personal Cooler: The little brother to Pelican’s outstanding 14QT Personal Cooler, the 8QT version features the same premium build quality and integrates a removable ice pack to keep contents cool all day long. Pelican coolers are preferred by many over their pricier competitors from Yeti, and at only $69.95 this is a wonderful gift for well under $100. pelican.com

Q. Several years ago you helped me build an audio system and I still love it! It has an Onkyo TX-8020 stereo receiver, an Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB turntable a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers. The system is in a medium-sized finished basement and I was thinking of adding two more speakers to the back of the room. Would you advise a certain model of speakers for that, and do you think I'd notice an improvement?


—B.F., Butler, Pennsylvania

A. Whenever adding speakers to any system you should always try to use speakers from the same line, which in your case would be Wharfedale Diamond. They could be bigger or smaller Diamond models, but as long as they are all Diamonds they will be tonally matched to create the most cohesive, even sound throughout the listening area.

The only way adding two speakers in the back might improve your listening experience is if you had a home theater surround receiver with a music-compatible surround mode, such as Dolby Pro Logic II. Such processing takes a stereo recording and adds to the sense of depth by extracting and feeding spacial information to the rear channels. Whether it is actually an improvement or not is hit or miss, and you are modifying the signal away from the original intent of the artist and sound engineers, so it is going to be less accurate no matter your impressions of the sound. Personally, I have always preferred unprocessed stereo sound for my own music listening.

Your receiver is a stereo receiver, which means it does not have these processing modes even if it has terminals for connecting another stereo pair of speakers. The best use of these terminals is to power speakers in a different area. You have an excellent system and if you want to upgrade, I suggest adding a Bluetooth receiver or CD player.


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